Category Archives: Campaign Worlds

This category focuses on the role playing campaigns I am involved with.

What makes a Rich Gaming World?

As a player, a rich world is one I’m happy to return to again and again. There is something about these rich worlds that keep drawing me onto the new horizons. So what are these worlds and what is it that keeps me coming back. Firstly some examples…

J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth

The classic that has spawned hundreds of imitators making the foundation of the fantasy genre is the only place to start when exploring the idea of rich worlds. Looking beyond the story there are many facets of Middle Earth that draw you in.

Firstly, there is the distinct races of Middle Earth. Each has a unique culture that separates it from the other peoples of the world. The way that Elves exists is distinct from the Dwarven mindset. The quick vicious intelligence of Goblins plays at a different speed to the Ents. So each race or culture approaches situations differently and this can play out in the behaviors of the NPCs, although Players as always remain unpredictable.

Secondly, the use of language or in this case languages. Each language acts as a further barrier to make each race distinct from one another. The harsh sounds of Black Speech, divides the Orks from the musical tones of the Elven languages and the Dwarven Khuzdul. The unique created languages add another layer of richness to the beautiful landscape.

The third is the long history that adds weight to each culture. Thousands of years of history that each individual carries from their own cultures help build a strong narrative. For example;  The eminently that exists between Elves and Dwarves is created from their long history of wars.

Finally, there is the map which represents the geography of the world. For me the map of middle earth provides a rich tapestry to wonder around the page of possibility exploring it’s locations without having to write all the details onto the page, but explodes in my mind filling in the blanks.

George R R Martin’s Westeros

The world of Westeros also has a long history with many elements not fully revealed to the readers (or watchers) of the series. George has previously stated that his inspiration was the Wart of the Roses where this first Tudor king, Henry the VII rose to power followed by Henry the VIII. That time does mark a tumultuous period of English history, and as a fantasy world build it does give you a short cut into creating a rich background for the players to carve up.

Another thing that Westeros has is the taking of standard fantasy cliches and adding a twist. For example; If you look at the Stone men which could be in D&D terms Golems or Earth Elementals, but in the mythos of Westeros are suffers of Greyscale. There are a number of differing stories surrounding each of the major elements existing in the Song of Fire & Ice. So having a basic idea with lots of embellishments and variations to the story existing to add strength to the tales, and natural rumors for the players to shift through.

The World of Darkness

White Wolf’s World of Darkness (WoD), in a similar move to Westeros, shows us a hidden history and what is concealed behind the common news stories of today to illuminate the horrors that lurk at the end of perception. And if we choose to peel back the skin we to can reveal the sores of festering evil underneath. It takes the current world events and adds another layer of meaning to over the top.

Neil Gaiman’s Sandman

In the first 72 issues of the comic series Sandman, Neil Gaiman weaves together the legends of many cultures with a twist of modern horror to create something new.  The tails are familiar, yet play out in unexpected ways as greater entities that dwell outside the myths impact upon what we know.

What can we do to enrich our gaming worlds?

As the GM or World Creator, what are the simple ways to add richness to our gaming worlds with a huge amount of effort, such as, Tolkien did when writing the created histories for Middle Earth.

  1. Add a map. Nearly every major fantasy series has a map, and you should too. It will help control the space of the game world.
  2. Take stuff from history. Use this to build a timeline to help flesh out your ideas with detailed stories for the major events.
  3. Also having a variation for major event, or building a list of rumors can help add richness to your world.
  4. Steal from myths and legend. By linking to common myths and legends it’s another shorthand way of adding more detail that, as the writer, you do not need to write.
  5. Finally, it’s what is not on the page. Only write what you need at the time for the next game session, unless you think it adds something worthwhile to the world

Zeppelin Warfare

Attack Of The Zeppelins appears to be a Channel4 production and is offered in the UK, but I can’t see that from here 🙁 However, it is on the National Geographic Channel (for the US?) and SBSOnDemand for Australia.

Design and Construction

All the Zeppelins were build using Aluminium frames because of the relative lightness when compared with iron or steel. This makes the ability to refine Aluminium a necessary precursor technology to enable lighter than air flight.

Zeppelin gas bags were made from cow’s intestines, which are relatively gas tight, loosing a little more than the modern 10-15 cubic meters per day. Typically, a zeppelin would have multiple gas-bags, so that if one failed the others could still keep the airship afloat.

During WW1, the volume of cow’s intestines needed stopped the eating of the national dish, the bratwurst. Rain on skins, would increase the weight of the Zeppelin and reduce it’s ceiling altitude.

At an altitude at 21,000 ft. the effects on the human body! are quite pronounced. The example they give in the program show that the lack of oxygen reduce muscular strength and cognitive function. (ie the presenter had problems standing and spelling words)

The Germans used sub-cloudcar, to guide the zeppelin it to the target. An operator would sit below the cloud layer and radio up directions to the hidden Zeppelin. They were loaded two types of unguided bombs high explosive and Incendiary.

Counter-measures

To counter the Zeppelin threat the British used Sound Mirrors placed along the coast. The sound mirror was a concert structure that captures and directs sound waves to a listener, who would then direct the Flak guns. However, this proved ineffective as the gun would have to match angle and distance to score a hit.

Then the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) tried using the BE2c aircraft with a Lewis machine gun to attack the airships from below. The machine gun was too weak leaving just small holes from which the gas would leak out, but at such a slow rate that the airships could still continue with their mission.

A flaming bullet was developed for the machine gun to ignite the Hydrogen gas in the balloon. The incendiary bullets made from Phosphorous, but this did not explode the Hydrogen because there was not enough Oxygen to cause a fire.

Explosive bullets made with nitro glycogen were designed to blow holes in the Zeppelin skin. These were alternated with the incendiary bullets in the machine guns, but it still required concentrated fire (A technique pioneered by Leaf Robinson) to cause the fire to down a Zeppelin.

Additional Sources of Information

Osprey’s London 1914–17 The Zeppelin Menace provides a great over view of the Zeppelin attacks on London. Osprey has other Zeppelin related books, but I have not read them yet. The Zeppelin Base Raids – Germany 1914 and Zeppelins: German Airships 1900–40.

Birth of bioware

Jewelry That Harvests Energy From Your Veins. It’s very Cyberpunk, although it was know as bioware. In Cyberspace, it was the expensive power system for most of your implants. And I don’t remember Shadowrun talking about it, but it’s hard to tell from all the Elves and Dragons running around in the future.

It’s interesting and kind of cool to see the technology we are developing emerge from the games I’ve played. It’s added to the list along with;

  • the cyber eye created at Berkeley, well an external camera wired into the visual cortex, and
  • the neural-switch invented elsewhere.

Oxygen stripper

The science behind this weapon is a crystal that absorbs Oxygen (See Science DailyIFLScience or PopSci) for release later. The fact “A bucket full (10 litres) of the material is enough to suck up all the oxygen in a room.” is not much use on the surface of a planet, but in confined spaces like airlocks, or small rooms where it will take some find for the oxygen (O2) to return to breathable levels it has some potential. The other important thing about this substance it that it will release the O2 when there is a lack of oxygen or when heated.

One option is for the long term storage of O2 on spaceships, or for oxygen scrubbers that strip out the oxygen of the carbon dioxide (CO2.) to enable better life support systems. With heat releasing the oxygen when needed. A similar system could be create for deep sea exploration to remove the O2 from the water for use in the submarine.

Another option is a 2 kg aerosol canister can release this in a powdered form as a knock-out weapon for boarding actions on spaceships. Although the clean up would be difficult with the substance getting everywhere. A better idea maybe a trap, where the canister is opened the characters enter the room.

This will result in Hypoxia to the body and brain (Cerebral hypoxia). According to Wikipedia the list of symptoms for hypoxic hypoxia are: Cyanosis, Headache, Decreased reaction time, Impaired judgment time, Euphoria, Visual impairment, Drowsiness, Lightheaded or dizzy sensation, Tingling in fingers and toes, & Numbness. All of which can be experienced by mountain climbers and other people who are about 10,000 feet.

Battletech links

I recently found a list of battletech related sites, but it’s a mixed bag of resources.

  • sarna.net – Best site (wiki) I’ve found for Battletech based information from mechs to history to the worlds.